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In a far away, mystical land (Canada on a thirty million quid budget), a simple farmer (named Farmer… no, really) battles evil warlord Gaillian (Ray Liotta… no, really) after his family is captured. He soon gets swept up in a power struggle between Gaillian and King Konreid (Burt Reynolds’s wig… no, really) for the land, and fights Gaillian and his army of Krugs (Lord of the Rings’ Orcs created on the spare change from the thirty million quid). Much gazing meaningfully at the horizon and falling off of stunt horses ensues.

In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Feature


Ah, Uwe Boll!!! As any movie fan who spends any decent amount of time online knows, Boll-Bashing is the closest thing to a national sport we have—it’s also the closest thing to seal culling with baseball bats. The crazy German ‘auteur’ is quite a personality; if only the man’s undeniable charisma and self confidence translated into directing talent. His previous movies have been at best lambasted, at worst vilified, so is ItNotK any different?

In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
Now, I’m not a Boll lover by any means, but I’m always willing to look at both good and bad points when watching a Bollfilm. It’s fair to say he’s not done too well in my house. House of the Dead was atrocious, but had an undeniable (small) amount of flair in its action sequences. Alone in the Dark was little better (I reviewed it once, and I liken finding the good points in it as wading through a lake of crap for a five pound note.), but had a surprisingly slick visual style. ItNotK has both of those strong points, but it has its own set of problems.

In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
ITNOTK has all of the quirks of the previous Bollfilms. The cast, again, is odd to say the least. Not as jarring as say, Bloodrayne, which tried to include Sir Ben Kingsley as a vampire king and Michael Madsen as a medieval warrior, but still overreaching. Reading out the cast list, Boll has actually summoned up quite a roster of individual talent. Jason Statham as the action lead, Burt Reynolds, John Rhys-Davies, Ray Liotta, Matthew Lillard, Ron Perlman and so on. Impressive individually, maybe even two or three of them together, but all of them? No, and in a sword and sorcery flick, absolutely not. Some of these actors look ill at ease (particularly Liotta and Reynolds), but some actually fit well, particularly Rhys-Davies and Perlman, and absolutely Statham, who seems to be right at home with the action and the movie. It is actually the first time Boll has cast anyone well in a movie. The cast is still woefully unbalanced, but occasionally hits a home run.

In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
The film also looks great, with huge sweeping cable shots, some particularly well filmed landscapes, impressive cinematography (a battle in a rainy downpour looks surprisingly good on LCD), and some great CGI. There is also some absolutely atrocious CGI, and a lot of well filmed landscape wasted by having people galloping across it on horses endlessly. Mind you, if that stuff was trimmed out of the movie, it would be around twelve minutes long. Action scenes are well staged, and again Boll scores by hiring the fight choreographer from Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Surprisingly, this works. Statham benefits the most from the action, suiting his action style well while not being too jarring with the fantasy style of the fighting. As a result, the final action scene with Ray Liotta is surprisingly acceptable. But again, Boll fails to find a consistent tone by adding Ninja Warriors into the action. Another own goal.

Then there’s the script. Although far more coherent than previous Bollfilms, it’s still clunky. Dialogue is quite stilted, and narrative is choppy. The overall story does not warrant the movie’s two hour running time, which is quite worrying when you consider there is a three hour version waiting in the wings.

In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
Where this film fails is in the fact that it wants to be in the same league as Lord of the Rings, the benchmark in mediaeval fantasy, and it obviously fails miserably. In truth, it’s closer in tone to pre-Rings fantasy films such as Willow, Krull and Conan the Destroyer. In this case, it fares better. It’s a film that belongs to a less grandiose, classical style than LotR, and more at home with the older, simpler sword-and-sorcery genre of the ‘80s. However, even in that less-than-stellar company it’s less of a Conan, and more of a Hawk the Slayer.

Video


Trimmed from the OAR of 2:35.1 to 1:78.1, the film feels oddly close. However, this has no noticeable downside to picture quality. The picture is pin-sharp, with no noticeable grain throughout. The cinematography on some of the scenes looks superb (especially the rain fight and the tree-nymph sequence). This actually looks better than higher profile releases in this genre, such as Pathfinder. Much better quality than the film deserves.

In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Audio


Again, far better than the film deserves. The Dolby Digital 5.1 is very impressive, with battle sequences suitably epic, and the soundtrack is well served. Of course, that just points out how ill-fitting the score is. Dolby 2.0 is also well served, and is surprisingly beefy. But the real surprise is a very nice DTS 5.1 track, which is as impressive as the Dolby, except with a little more kick in the bottom end. Eyebrow raising.

Extras


Of course, the first point of call in any Boll DVD is the commentary. We all go there to hear just how he cocked up so badly, and end up sometimes more entertained than the movie. Not afraid to slag of actors and crew (a story about firing all the CGI companies might explain the varying CGI), he also lays praise where due. Also prepared to point out what he thinks he cocked up, his odd mixture of outrageous self confidence and blatant self deprecation makes for an entertaining commentary track.

The making of featurette feels less like a documentary, and more like a twenty-minute EPK. Metrodome also include a ‘Behind the Scenes’ featurette, which is obviously new speak for B-roll, a theatrical trailer, and some extended/alternate takes incorrectly listed as deleted scenes. Not the greatest set of extras I’ve ever seen, and hardly comprehensive.

In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Overall


So, down to the nitty-gritty. Is it as bad as the BollBashers say it is? No. Is it Boll’s best film? Yes, by a long shot. Is it a good film? No. Is it a bad film? Not really. Despite its many problems, one can watch it and have a low expectation, and be entertained. At the end of the day, all it’s really about is lots of people hitting each other with swords in pretty woodland locations, and on that level it delivers. It’s what I wanted to see when I put the disc in. Mission accomplished.


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